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The Secret Behind Attracting Millions of Dollars in Venture Capital Funds (Episode 5)

InVideo is currently used by over 100,000 users globally from 150 plus countries. It’s funded with multi-million dollar backing by Sequoia Capital, one of the stars of Silicon Valley venture capital funds and other angel investors.

Sanket Shah is the CEO of InVideo. 

Seven years ago, Sanket started creating videos on non-fiction books and uploaded a bunch of them to YouTube. These videos got huge traction on YouTube. But Sanket realized that the process of video creation was cumbersome. It wasn’t a great experience. 

So in 2016, after his last company, MassBlurb got acquired for a few million dollars, he and his partners were wondering about the next big thing. What would be the next gig? 

The answer lay in trying to solve a problem that he had experienced as a video creator a few years before. The time consuming and complicated task of video creation, editing, and publishing. They were building the tech to fix that. 

Along the way he has discovered the importance of hiring the right people, performing “good” customer research, and discovering the right “Go to Market” traction channels. 

What you will learn

  • How to attract venture capital funds.
  • The importance of market size to create a scalable business.
  • Why a high gross profit margin is the difference between success and failure.
  • The type of customers you need to avoid and the ones to chase.
  • How InVideo identified a problem and created a scalable solution.
  • The critical focus of developing a user-friendly experience.
  • The secret sauce of great 24/7 customer support.
  • Why thinking is underrated and needs to be nurtured and practiced.
  • Why your first business idea is often not correct and you will need to pivot.

Transcript

Jeff Bullas: Welcome everyone and before we get to chat to our next guest, I would like to introduce Sanket Shah. Now Sanket Shah is the CEO of InVideo. Now seven years ago, Sanket started creating videos on non-fiction books and uploaded a bunch of them to YouTube. Now these videos got a huge traction on YouTube. However, Sanket realized that the process of video creation was cumbersome and we could use a very English phrase called, a pain in the ass, right?

So the reality was that it just wasn't what he thought was good. It wasn't a great experience. So in 2016, after his last company, MassBlurb got acquired for a few million dollars, he and his partners were wondering about the next big thing, the next gig. And that's where we actually get to interview Sanket and ask him what he's learned about the previous experience and what he's doing today.

Jeff Bullas: So today InVideo, they're used by over 100,000 users globally from 150 plus countries and it's funded by Sequoia Capital, one of the stars of Silicon Valley venture capital funds. So welcome to the show Sanket, it's so great to have you here and thank you very much for making the time to be on the show.

Sanket Shah: Hey Jeff. It's a privilege.

Jeff Bullas: You're most welcome. And what I'd like to ask you is, and part of this podcast series is to try and discover what inspires and motivates entrepreneurs to start a business. And then the other bigger part of that equation is not only start but persist and also how do they make that work in their life, mixing family personal as well as the business.

And it's a real balancing act as we know, and part of the tagline of this podcast is actually how to win at business and life. Because as we know, it's not all about money. Money's good, but to a certain point it doesn't produce happiness. So it's great to have you on the show. And so the first question I'm going to ask you is what motivated you to start your first business? What was the inspiration behind it?

Sanket Shah: I'm glad you asked. So right from when I went to college, and when I did my schooling, I always thought I was entrepreneurial. I found immense pleasure in ideas, in selling something. So more than the money, the kick has always been about actually doing something, creating value and then in turn get money. So right from college, I used to teach robotics, ethical hacking in several different colleges across India and when I moved to the US, my love for that never went down. In fact, that is what gave me the motivation. That is what I wanted to do.

Sanket Shah: And it was a bug to be honest, if I rationalize it, it might not sound pragmatic, but it is just a bug that, hey, you want to go out and keep doing something, which is different because you're challenging the status quo. Because if you start thinking like how a large company can think, you'll never become a large company, you'll never survive. And that is what is most exciting to me. And that is what gives me my inspiration. And that is why I actually do that. I don't think entrepreneurship is a rational choice anyway.

Jeff Bullas: Right. So basically it was about providing value and then what happens from that is, then you make money out of that. So adding value and giving to the world first, is really what motivated you. So you went to the US. So where did you go? You did university and college in India, then you went to the US, where did you go to college there?

Sanket Shah: So I went to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. And what happened there was, I of course got enrolled to an engineering program for my master's degree, but I ended up taking a bunch of courses in the business school. And they kept saying that, "Hey, read a book on pricing and read a book on marketing and read a book on macroeconomics." And I said that "Hey, it's insane to read so much. How about I could create a 10 minute video summary of that? "And that is when right from the college dorm, I started creating those video summaries and putting it out and actually got very deviated from my program. Got a $70,000 grant from University of Michigan and actually almost started pursuing creating videos of books full time.

Jeff Bullas: Okay. So that's really fascinating. So you've actually discovered that you love business and you've already done that in India. Then you moved to the USA and then your entrepreneurial streak started to emerge much more at the University. This is what's really fascinating about the American colleges. They seem to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit. That's what I love about American entrepreneurial spirit, it's all about making a difference. So as we know, America is the heartland of capitalism and democracy. So were there any mentors that actually inspired you after you started? So you're obviously inspired by, to start the business, would actually be an entrepreneur. Were there any people that inspired you, that became mentors or basically gave you the motivation?

Sanket Shah: Of course. And it's been a journey and it has people who might not be very famous as well as people who are very famous that would have an influence on me, particularly here. So America taught me one thing and those were my professors, they were serial entrepreneurs. One of them was actually the first investor in Groupon, who actually cut an angel check to the Groupon founders.

Jeff Bullas: Wow.

Sanket Shah: And they said that, "Hey, it's okay to fail, if you fail, you are going to find a job. If you fail, you are going to start where you are today. And it's okay."

Sanket Shah: I think India culturally is very different. We don't like... Culturally, America was very open and that opened my confidence. But a couple of professors had a large influence on me and I would say I was still a kid then, but they kept pushing and nurturing that spirit. They kept correcting me but not demotivating me, so those were two professors. I had a very large influence from Richard Branson. So Richard Branson has written a book, how I lost my virginity, which is actually a biography about his adventures, how he went through things and I thought that was fascinating.

Jeff Bullas: It's a great book. Yeah, it's a great book, I've read it recently. So he was very transparent and actually revealed quite a few things about his life, which makes Richard very authentic. So that book from Richard Branson was quite a big motivator for you, obviously.

Sanket Shah: Correct. And just imagining that, hey, you can file a suit against a government body or you can actually negotiate with Gaddafi and you can go around the world in a hot air balloon is so amazing and it's super inspiring. And that just kept... And again, what happens to an entrepreneur is, we go to a sinusoidal wave in terms of an electric signal. So you're positive on a day and then negative and then back positive. But all of this just inspires that, hey, anything is possible if you think about it and work towards it. And your worst or BATNA in terms of management is your next best alternative, is actually where you are. So you typically have nothing to lose, so just might as well go for it. So those books have had a large influence on me, it's been.

Sanket Shah: But my professors at Michigan had a lot of things to do with where I could get and what I could pursue as a journey. And then I think it's been amazing in that order. And then of course I think our first job, it's very important. And I ended up joining a startup in Silicon Valley and I started working with the CEO who now is actually in the tech leadership of Snapchat. And he trained me too. So I think they kept training me on a macro-level as well as on a micro-level that, hey, how to do certain thing, what to do, how to think, how to manage? And I typically kept working with him for over a year and that taught me a lot too.

Jeff Bullas: So the first company that you actually ended up selling. How did that start and when did you start that?

Sanket Shah: So again, at times I believe that because of my world exposure, which is mediocre at best, I have started both the companies from personal experiences. So my father, he runs a small business and he didn't have a website and he didn't have all these digital marketing tools. So what happened there was that I said that, "Hey, a small business should have marketing tools," and that is why I started our last company. But to be very candid here, it was not the best decision of my life, because with respect to entrepreneurship what I learnt right now or what I understand is, it's the market size. It's like how large is your market and then achieving a product market fit and is the market lucrative or not. So I would say my first company was a misjudgment with respect to understanding the market size and how lucrative that market is, but we started creating a small and business marketing suite and then selling it to a bunch of businesses in India.

Sanket Shah: We had over 1500 plus restaurants using that software, but then you aren't realizing the problem. Restaurants have a very large mortality, so restaurants keep shifting and churning very quickly. If you look at it on a macro-level that 15% of restaurants actually die every single year, which means that drop in the business, it requires handholding as well to a restaurant because you're dealing with a small and medium business, who is there only to generate profit for the most part. But that was our first company. We did very well with respect to revenue and scale. So in 19 months, we scaled our revenue very fast because we knew... So it was also to realize that, hey, if such things happen, you want to scale revenue. When you scale revenue, you start getting exit opportunities. And we took the exit opportunity we got because it wasn't the best business to do business in.

Jeff Bullas: Right. So it wasn't a large enough market. Is it because of geography or was it because of the particular category you're in?

Sanket Shah: Both, right. So India till today is very low on recurring payments. So there's no way you can take a credit card and then you can start automatically collecting monthly revenue.

Number two, small businesses worldwide have high churn. Because they shutdown or the owner thinks that they want to generate more profit and starts cutting losses. The small businesses across the world are difficult to operate, over all. And if you look at all these companies who work with small businesses, they have very high churn, which means that things don't compound. And if you don't have the right sales model, then you do not have the right gross margin business.

Jeff Bullas: Right. So it was too a low a margin as well. Is that what you're saying?

Sanket Shah: It would get low margin because you'll require large time successes.

Jeff Bullas: Right. Okay. So you sold that after about two years. So when did you exit that business?

Sanket Shah: So we spent two years building it and then a year with the acquirer. And of course once my lock-in was over, I had to move on, I wanted to move on. Eight months into it, I was itching to do something again.

Jeff Bullas: Right. Okay. So you had the golden handcuffs, you're actually being held to that company for a year after you sold it. So you move on. So the inspiration and idea for InVideo, which looks like from the numbers is just doing really, really well. And you're now talking a global market, aren't you?

Sanket Shah: Correct.

Jeff Bullas: So what inspired you to start InVideo? I know you talked about... In your intro, we talked about the fact that MassBlurb was your first, well, university experience about nonfiction books, it was maybe part of the inspiration. So where did the idea for Invideo come? Obviously you've realized that you needed a global market, you needed business that had more money and also able to pay. So where did the idea for InVideo come from? And tell me a little bit about InVideo.

Sanket Shah: Sure. So creating videos was very difficult, it's something that I had already realized when I was recording those books. It is difficult, it is time consuming, it takes a lot of money. And that is the sole motivation why we started InVideo. However, I was more strategic about thinking, what kind of business to start, how to do it, is the market size large enough? So there went a lot of research. There went a research that, hey is there a large company built here? Is there merit to get it online? If yes, why is there merit to get a video creation platform online? And then how large is the market, what do we need to build for that? And that is why? So let's say that we created a plan, and I would say to a large extent we followed that plan throughout last two and a half years. And the only difference between InVideo and my last company, and this is for the importance of an entrepreneur to know, is that we are three times larger than our last business.

Sanket Shah: Three times bigger than our last business already. However, it still feels like it's Day Zero. It still feels like we haven't even gotten started. It still feels like that, which means that it's the right business to be in, which makes it very exciting.

Now, what does InVideo do?

At InVideo, we want to empower and encourage everyone who knows how to use a computer and a smartphone to create a great video. What is different is it doesn't matter if the user is a basic video editor or an advanced video editor, almost like an Excel. We want to allow all of them to be able to create great videos.

We are solving three problems essentially.

The number one problem that we're solving here is, making sure the interface can be used by everyone.

Number two is, you don't need to go out to find different components that you would need to create a great video. You should be able to do it quickly. It should be all plugged in, so that you don't have to use a bunch of different plugins, a bunch of different softwares.

Number three, if you're putting it online, now imagine today a video editor cannot work from home because all his files are in the work computer and the only way to do it is, actually remove those files out and have a high performance system at home, plug those files in and start creating that video, completing that project again. You don't have the liberty to actually work in the cab or work at home or work on a vacation. You will get stuck if you don't have those Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro files.

If online has a lot of merit and our benchmarks were Figma and Canva. There's a reason why they built what they built, it is trend, it is understanding the users' pain points and then keeping on building and it takes time but things compound. So tick what compounds, what you're doing compounds and then you see a waterfall effect.

Jeff Bullas: Right. So one of the main key things you're saying is that having the ability to actually have the technology and the software as a service type platform sitting in the cloud means, anyone can do it from anywhere.

Sanket Shah: Right.

Jeff Bullas: So suddenly you've changed the game, you've gone from files locked away on a local computer to being in the cloud and easily accessed by anyone. I've read a really interesting book by Peter Diamandis and Kotler recently and it's a book called Bold. One of these strategies you've talked about, where we get exponential growth is where we go from technology that's hard to use and then we apply user friendly interface. And if you think about it, in 1995 the internet got given a friendly user interface. It was called the browser and this is really interesting is that, and this is going to be fascinating with tech and business over time. We've seen it happen even with smartphones, with apps, is that you can access this easily.

Jeff Bullas: We've seen people like being able to publish so easily because they've got an easy to use interface called social media. So what's fascinating is, when we're talking about technologies emerging, right as we speak, such as artificial intelligence and machine language. And I think when we get a user interface for artificial intelligence that we can use, that is actually easy for everyone to use, this is when “AI” is really going to take off I think.

So it was a really interesting insight by Peter Diamandis in the book Bold, which is basically about exponential technologies and you're in the middle of that. So can you tell me a little bit about things like the technologies that you're using to drive and make it easy for people to create and then also to make the best videos possible? So what are some of the tech that you're using that's emerging in your platform?

Sanket Shah: Correct. So now, let's take a step back and understand that browsers were not built or are still not built to create things. They are built to read, they are built to consume information. They are not built for heavy things like designing. So what happens is, the browser becomes very heavy, in layman terms, and the memory that browser can handle versus what is required to create anything design including your UI design on Figma, it becomes very heavy.

So what we have to essentially do is, of course use a bit of machine learning and artificial intelligence, but what we essentially have to do is make that browser compatible. So we have to use the browser, but our technology is almost building a browser on top of a browser, that includes the machine language code. So that actually goes to the core of your machine because a lot of things are unusable on a browser.

Sanket Shah: So if you use technologies like SVGs and JPEGs and all of that, what happens is, it still makes the browser very heavy. So for a seamless experience, you have to write core level code and giving a guise use and then keep understanding what's happening where, how to optimize those memory issues or we call it DOM size and get that done. So it's essentially, writing libraries on top of a browser that browser does not have or are not supposed to do anyway, which makes the problem relatively difficult for a supreme user experience that a desktop app can give.

Jeff Bullas: So what you're doing, you're actually creating a user friendly interface for video technology to work on current technology.

Sanket Shah: Not just user friendly interface, a total user friendly experience.

Jeff Bullas: Okay. So UX is really important obviously for everything. So you're doing that for the video technology industry, that's fascinating. So what are some of the biggest challenges that you've had along the way? So you've started, you're evolving. What are three of the biggest challenges that you've experienced as an entrepreneur and currently within video?

Sanket Shah: Number one is ability to hire the right people. Now, I'm not going to say that we have not made hiring mistakes. Once you've hired the right people... You have Airbnbs and Googles of the world saying that, hey, they didn't hire people for six months, eight months, till they didn't find the right person. I did not believe in that philosophy. But now, I think that's the only way and the only right thing to do.

Sanket Shah: Because once you hire the right person, and you empower that person in your org, I was amazed and I'm always amazed about the amount of value the right person can create and why it is important to take six months to fill that position, but with the right guy. So I think that is very, very important and that is where I would have failed at times. Now again, I think every entrepreneur makes hiring mistakes. I think we have a fabulous team, but with the right org structure and a right leader, it can move that needle because at times all you require is a right leader. That's number one. Number two is I think this is a problem with a lot of entrepreneurs, which is building too much.

Jeff Bullas: Okay, so you basically tried to do too much, build too many features in, instead of a minimal viable product. Is that what you're saying?

Sanket Shah: No, not against a minimal viable product, but building too many features. Now, I again only have started realizing that an entrepreneur is building too many features because of lack of research.

Jeff Bullas: Okay.

Sanket Shah: If you do your research right, if you talk to your customers, you would know that there are only four or five most important things for your customers. You keep building it because you do not want to take the pain to do that. And that is something I realized one year into that company that, hey, this is how you... So there's one thing that you say, "Hey, talk to your customers." There's actually a structure to talk to your customers. Putting that structure about what you want to know, how, is supremely important because most customers do not want to tell bad things about you.

Sanket Shah: And the third thing is identifying different traction channels and making them work cohesively. So if I have to reiterate this, it would be hiring the right guys and investing in building the right org structure. It would be not building too much, too fast. And the third thing would be identifying GTM very strategically. And I strongly believe that ads can only be 20, 30% of your GTM and should not be more than that.

Jeff Bullas: Can you explain what you mean by that, GTM?

Sanket Shah: Right. So go-to-market is often, here an entrepreneur would very easily say that, hey, I have... And I'm talking about an entrepreneur who's just getting started. An entrepreneur, four, five years into the journey would appreciate all this things because of multiple failures in that journey. Again, identifying what are your hooks in the product and how can you use it. So number one we say is ads. Number two we say is SEO, but how is SEO really done? What do you need to do? What is the plan for it? How do you crack that model? What is more amazing to me is using GTMs like a product led growth. What can be in my product that can lead to automatic growth? For example, in a freemium model, we say that you can remove the InVideo watermark by sharing about us on Facebook or inviting friends, family. Calendly and Typeform does that extremely well.

Sanket Shah: The third part, which is our innovation is, we also do support led growth. So because of the geography we are in, we believe that one of our secret sauces is support. We do 24/7 support and the reply within 30 seconds. And we do that for a product that's $10 a month and 95% freemium customers. But we still do that. Now what happens is, you give extraordinary support, people review you, people write about you, people are amazed, they recommend people. So that investment actually brings in five times the investment. But what we think often is that, hey, I can't support a $10 customer or I can't support a free customer.

Sanket Shah: But the amount of word of mouth that can create is amazing. The second thing that we use that's innovative is, we use templates as a growth strategy. So we have 1700 plus templates, but we'll have 10,000 templates eventually. But all those templates actually have keywords that can be ranked on Google. So these are all things that when you look at them very minutely, so how it started working, you start looking at the search results, you look at the keywords that you use a search for and then in that, how can you get all of these phrases indexed. So a product company is actually thinking like a blogger. It's thinking like a publishing house. And that is where all these things compound. And then the last thing is you have to stick to a GTM for a decently long time to know if it works or not.

Jeff Bullas: Right. So basically you're saying that your go-to-market strategy's been user groups that give you feedback, you're focusing very much on SEO as a part of go-to-market. So what else was there in the go-to-market? I think you mentioned another one.

Sanket Shah: Again, the innovative strategies are, support led growth, using templates as a go-to-market, and those are the two innovative ones and then product-led growth.

But those are the very innovative strategies that not many companies use.

Jeff Bullas: Okay. So essentially you're saying that the biggest challenge that you have, not creating too many products. In other words, making too many features, you want to make sure you didn't create too many features.

Sanket Shah: Correct.

Jeff Bullas: You've got to make sure you get the go-to-market correct as well. So yeah, that's very interesting actually in terms of, because you can, you've had a minimal viable product and it's essentially a lot of software as a service companies have built these really complicated products, launched it and no one wants it. Well, they only use two things and essentially you're saying that, we're trying to make sure we're using customer focus groups that we know what they want so we can deliver something that is really, really important rather than trying to do everything.

Sanket Shah: Correct. Absolutely right. And the world is moving towards a bottoms-up growth. So an employee of a company finds a product, solves the problem, starts paying from a company credit card, is becoming more and more common versus a very top-driven approach. And if you're creating a bottoms-up product, that is one of the most important things to do, I call it gratification, user should be gratified in three, four, five clicks. If you make gratification a mountain, the view on top of the mountain can be very good, but not enough people are going to take that track.

Jeff Bullas: Yep. So in other words, you want to get them validated and give them gratification in just a few steps. Okay. That's fantastic. So what are three things you've learned as an entrepreneur, as a human being? What's the most important life lessons that you've learned that you'd want to share with our audience?

Sanket Shah: I can definitely think of two and those things is something that I keep thinking about. One is thinking hard. I strongly believe, at least in entrepreneurship it's not more doing, it's more strategic. Execution is supremely important. Just being busy doesn't mean you're getting enough done. If you have a set back, if you think purely black, why, how, what, rationalize it. The output will be much better. What we as humans keep doing is actually, we want to get to work immediately and you want to do something because then you have a feeling that, hey, I did something.

Jeff Bullas: Yep.

Sanket Shah: But it's important to learn what to do, when to do, why to do that actually dwell over it for a very long time. Not very long time, it's a thin line, but dwell over it, plan it and then follow that plan. I don't see enough people do that. I don't think that I do that very religiously either, but I definitely see a difference. One is, doing a lot of work but the other one is being extremely sharp about what to do and get it done.

Jeff Bullas: Now the words you're thinking, well, you're thinking obviously very well, but the reality is that a lot of people just leap in, get busy and that's fine, but on the other hand, you're saying take time to really think and a lot of people struggle with thinking. Yeah, they go to work and they get told what to do, whereas an entrepreneur has to think very strategically what they want to do, so-

Sanket Shah: Everyone should, it's like sharpening your axe before cutting out that tree. If you've blunt axe, it's going to take a lot of time, it's not going to be a smooth slice. How can you make sure you're prepared for a smooth slice? That's definitely number one and again everyone falls prey to this. Supremely important. Second thing is I believe is persistence and the path you take. Look, I don't know if people are always amazing when they were in school or when they were in college, but if you choose a path you take and you hang in there for a long time, you would make it.

Sanket Shah: A friend of mine, and he is my college buddy, one of my closest friends, he is 29, his company was acqui-hired, so a struggling company was actually acqui-hired by a guy in the valley, who was head of engineering at one of the top five companies in the world. And he was promoted as a COO just on Friday last week. He struggled for six years and then got promoted as a COO of a venture backed company that's building automation garages and so that teaches me that it's important to hang in there. I believe that happened to our last company as well. There are a number of times when we felt that, hey, we want to quit this, but the only way was to bump up the revenue to keep going fast and someone would find that value.

Jeff Bullas: Yep. And it's really great. So my guest yesterday, Melissa said that was one of the top things she actually really believed in, is persistence. And persistence is actually something that I really believe in as well. Playing the long game, is a great quote by Bill Gates. And he said “A lot of people overestimate what they can do in 12 months, but underestimate what they can do in 10 years”. So essentially you've got to play the long game. And I'm involved with a company Shuttlerock and on the board of that for eight years. And we pivoted twice. And I think there's a few aspects to persistence. Number one, there's the mental game of persistence. And as an entrepreneur in the digital world, that's a real biggie.

Jeff Bullas: And for me, when I started the blog and we now have five million visitors a year and over a million followers and subscribers and I started with $10 and the reality from that is I played the long game, I persisted for four years, I got up at 4:30 AM and wrote before I started my day job. So persistence is really important. But money's one thing, the other one is actually the mental game of hanging in there and knowing when to pivot.

So is there anything for you as an entrepreneur, any lessons you've learned about realizing when something's not working and then pivoting to do something else?

Sanket Shah: Correct. Several times and I think that it can be small pivots as well.

Jeff Bullas: Oh, yeah.

Sanket Shah: There can be small and large pivots and you pivot all the time. Things don't work all the time and it's okay. Things don't work all the time, people don't work, you have to go through large pivots. For example, my last company went through a large pivot of saying that, "Hey, let's focus on small and medium businesses to only focusing on restaurants." But that reduced the market size. So again, if we were more strategic about it and we thought a lot more, we would understand all these functions and vibes. Functions are very important to learn and understand.

Sanket Shah: But that was the pivot we went through in the last company. In this company, when we started, our initial thought was that we want to completely automate video production. For the first two months, we kept building a core technology. Actually for the first four, five months, we kept working on natural language processing and then said that, "Hey, we don't think there are going to be enough takers for this in the market. Instead, can we make it easy for everyone to create a great video?" And these pivots are usually strategic decisions and there's a lot of serendipity.

Jeff Bullas: Yes. And do you use research and data to actually do those pivots or is it partly intuition as well?

Sanket Shah: Both. It has to be partly intuitive.

Jeff Bullas: Both?

Sanket Shah: It's always like that.

Jeff Bullas: That's right. Exactly.

Sanket Shah: Yeah.Part of it is intuition and other part of it is research.

Jeff Bullas: Right. And Sanket, one other challenge maybe we haven't talked about is funding the business. So can you give us some insights on what your challenges have been on funding a startup?

Sanket Shah: Sure. So since we are backed by Sequoia, there is this company in Indonesia called Gojek. Gojek does everything. It's an amazing company. The CEO who now is the education minister of Indonesia, I was lucky to meet him four months back in Singapore. And he said “Hey, if you were turned down by 15 investors and you say you're so upset, I have no sympathy for you."

Jeff Bullas: Yep.

Sanket Shah: So you have to keep hitting, you have to keep going. There are going to be umpteen rejections, but one person has to bite. One person has to agree that, "Hey, what you're doing, I have conviction on this and let's do it." I really see it as a game that, hey, you have to keep it in the ground. You've to keep going and asking, not many would know but we have some of the best angel investors in India and in the US. So we have Gokul Rajaram, who actually is called the father of Google AdSense, and then went ahead to build Facebook ad platform. We have Anand Chandrasekaran, who has been a chief product officer of multitudes of companies. In India, we would have at least three unicorn founders who are investors in our company, but you have to get rejected building those relationships and eventually it would come.

Sanket Shah: I have a strategy there actually that I keep using. When an investor, when an angel investor especially I really want, says no, I've done this twice or thrice and it has always worked. I say that, "Hey how about if I transfer my personal money to your account, you invest that money and I issue shares to you." They always go back and invest it. They have never taken my money and they always invest. And all these guys are entrepreneurs and they knew the power of persistence. And also one was Udemy. Udemy was rejected by many investors and I understand their road, but they kept going and actually built a successful company in my opinion and that keeps happening.

Jeff Bullas: Yep. I remember having a conversation with Melanie Perkins, the founder of Canva, which is the global image-

Sanket Shah: Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas: Okay. And I remember having a conversation with Melanie and she's an Australian by the way, and they've got the head office or offices in Sydney as well as around the world. And Melanie said that I think she wrote or presented to 45 different presentations to raise capital. She might have actually done 45 reinventions of her slide deck. Okay. So persistence is the key to succeeding in life as well as business. So just to wrap it up, Sanket, it's been fabulous to get your insights and to hear your journey. So if there's one thing you'd like listeners know about, what would that be that you would like them to share? What's the one thing you'd like to leave listeners with at the end of this interview?

Sanket Shah: Entrepreneurship is overall, a long term game. You need to persist in that journey. But it's important to believe that what you're doing is right. And actually derive fun in those uncertainties. You'll never be certain. You always have an hypothesis. And if you can derive happiness off those uncertainties and leverage them to your advantage, I think that it's a beautiful game. And by the way, if Jeff you talk to Melanie again, tell her we absolutely look up to what they have built, we love what they have done.

Sanket Shah: ... but we are going to win with video against them.

Jeff Bullas: That's great. So thank you very much Sanket for sharing your insight and your experience on the entrepreneur's journey and as we know that there's a lot of challenges along the way, but I think one of the best things about being an entrepreneur is it helps you to be a better human being. And I think one of the first things you mentioned at the start was that you wanted to bring value to the world and then the money comes from that. And I would totally agree. So what you're doing is bringing great value and hats off to you and the team and I look forward to catching up with you soon. So thank you very much for your time and great to have a chat.

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